2014 Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T review

The face-lifted Nissan Juke gets a new engine, a bigger boot and new styling packs. Are these changes enough to help it fight off the rest of the small SUV class? We try it in the UK to find out...

2014 Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T review

Half a million Nissan Jukes have been sold globally since 2010, making it the biggest fish in the mini SUV pond. 

This is its first major refresh, centred around a new 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine that is predicted to become the biggest seller. Other options include a 1.6 petrol, a 1.5 diesel or a turbocharged version of the 1.6, which can be specced with four-wheel drive and a CVT automatic gearbox.

Boot space in the two-wheel-drive versions has been improved from a mediocre 251 litres to a more respectable 354 litres, and new interior and exterior style packs have been added as no-cost options on the popular Acenta Premium and Tekna trims.

What’s the 2014 Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T like to drive?

The 1.2 turbo engine is a welcome addition to the Juke range. It pulls eagerly from low revs and, thanks to relatively low gearing, you don’t need to use the six-speed gearbox too often around town. Still, while the Juke feels peppy enough at low speeds, you have to rev its engine hard in other situations, such as when overtaking on fast A-roads or even when pulling on to the motorway. 

The suspension has been tweaked, but sadly the ride remains too fidgety and jars harshly over sharper-edged bumps, becoming seriously unsettled over mid-corner potholes and expansion joints. 

On typical UK roads, you and any passengers on board will be more uncomfortable than in similar-sized SUV rivals, such as the Renault Captur or Kia Soul.

The steering – which now has three different settings in all but entry-level Visia models – is satisfyingly quick to respond around town, making the Juke feel darty at low speeds. However, it washes wide quite easily through fast corners, and the rear doesn't feel particularly stable during high-speed direction changes. 

Refinement from the 1.2 is decent when cruising; the engine spins away at just over 2000rpm and road noise fades to a distant thrum. However, as soon as the turbo kicks in, you hear a noise like a distant jet engine winding up for take-off, and then when you lift off it lets out an exaggerated whoosh, which is very audible and highly irritating when you’re driving around town

The Nissan’s clutch is also heavy, which can be wearing in stop-start traffic, and the biting point comes suddenly and aggressively, making the Juke hard to drive smoothly around town. The gearshift isn’t ideal, either, because the narrow gait makes it tricky to select the gear you want.

During our real-world economy tests, the 1.2-litre engine proved to be more economical than some of the Juke's three-cylinder rivals (including the Renault Captur), although a combined figure of a little more than 40mpg is still some way short of the official Government claims.

What’s the 2014 Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T like inside?

In the two cheaper trims – Visia and Acenta – the cabin materials are unchanged, which means you get cheap-feeling plastic switchgear and a grainy colour screen that shows the climate or driving mode controls (the fact that the same set of switchgear doubles up for both functions is a nice idea but isn't very user-friendly).

Visia cars get 16-inch alloy wheels and air-con, but you have to upgrade to Acenta if you want Bluetooth or a USB input.

The top two trims (Acenta Premium and Tekna) are worth the extra as they come with a 5.8-inch colour touch-screen, complete with sat-nav, which considerably lifts the appearance of the cabin and brings with it well-damped switches and intuitive controls.

Not only that, but at this end of the Juke range the contrast stitching and gloss-finish cabin highlights in black, red, white or yellow can be added for no extra cost. It’s just a shame that the cheap-feeling air-con controls remain.

Driver’s seat height adjustment is standard on all models, but no steering wheel reach adjustment means that some drivers will struggle to find a decent driving position.

Boot space is better than it was. A standard variable boot floor can be raised to make the floor flush with the high boot lip and the seats, which fold flat. You end up with a big drop to the boot floor when it’s lowered, but the extra depth means that you can get bulky items loaded more easily. It's still quite a shallow, awkward shape though, and rivals such as the Kia Soul and Citroen C4 Cactus offer more space.

Rear passenger room remains unchanged, so shorter adults will be fine, but longer-legged passengers will find their knees pushing into the seat in front, and the raked roofline cuts into headroom and results in narrow rear windows that make things feel a bit claustrophobic in the back.

Should I buy one?

The cabin updates mean that higher-spec versions are now a bit smarter inside, and the new 1.2 petrol engine solves a few of the old Juke's flaws, giving Nissan's funky SUV nippier performance and marginally better refinement.

However, rear passenger space (and all-round visibility) are still poor compared with the best rivals – particularly the Kia Soul – while up front it's still tricky to find a good driving position.

The Juke is also still one of the least comfortable cars in this class, with a firm, choppy low-speed ride, while all-round refinement leaves a lot to be desired. The face-lift has improved things, then, but it comes just as the rest of the class has moved on, too, leaving the Juke trailing in the wake of rivals such as the latest Kia Soul and new Citroen C4 Cactus.

What Car? says...


Renault Captur

Kia Soul

Nissan Juke 1.6 2WD Visia Engine size 1.6 petrol
Price from £13,420
Power 93bhp
Torque 103lb ft
0-62mph 12.0 seconds
Top speed 104mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg
CO2 138g/km

Nissan Juke 1.6 XTronic (auto) 2WD Acenta Engine size 1.6 petrol
Price from £16,320
Power 115bhp
Torque 116lb ft
0-62mph 11.5 seconds
Top speed 106mph
Fuel economy 44.8mpg
CO2 145g/km

Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T 2WD Acenta
Engine size 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Price from £15,320
Power 114bhp
Torque 140lb ft
0-62mph 10.8 seconds
Top speed 111mph
Fuel economy 50.4mpg
CO2 129g/km

Nissan Juke dCi 110 2WD Visia Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
Price from £15,320
Power 109bhp
Torque 191lb ft
0-62mph 11.2 seconds
Top speed 109mph
Fuel economy 70.6mpg
CO2 104g/km

Nissan Juke DIG-T 190 2WD Tekna Engine size 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Price from £19,220
Power 188bhp
Torque 177lb ft
0-62mph 8.0seconds
Top speed 134mph
Fuel economy 40.9mpg
CO2 159g/km

See what our readers made of the 2014 Nissan Juke in our Reader Test Team.